Vancouver - Seattle - Frankfurt - Addis Ababa - Kilimanjaro / Moshi Shanty Town
11 Aug 2011
|I'll apologize now because the internet is slow and if my paragraph breaks don't work I'll have to sort them out after.
I have written pages so far in my journal but the timer is counting down from 33 mins right now and my "escort" for the day is patiently waiting for me so I'll have to keep this brief.
After an all night packing session and a few final runs to the store I managed to get everything in my one large pack and my day pack (half of which is taken up with my camera) and I was even able to carry it all.
I was clean and ready to go when Mom showed up at 7:00am for the drive to Seattle (ps - still not sure how I managed to get a ride and pick up when I decided on an airport so far away...very fortunate girl). I had one pick up to do at Shoppers and Mom kindly bolted across the street to grab coffees for the drive and we were off.
The drive was uneventful and we arrived at SeaTac with plenty of time. I walked right up to the desk for Lufthansa and checked my bag and aside from the fear the lady put in me about possibly needing a Visa for Ethiopia (really? I will only be there for less than 2 hours?), I was off - back to the curb that is to give my awaiting Mother another hug bye, reassure her I was all checked in and good and promised (again!) that I would be safe and that I wouldn't meet anyone from outside of North America while I was away. She must not have read my note on facebook declaring that I was NOT taking this trip to find a husband, but rather to climb a mountain and see four countries on this great continent.
Lufthansa it turns out is pretty much a luxury airline compared to what I have experienced in recent years. I was in the first row on the first leg so had extra leg room and noone in front of me that would be reclining, I had a mini TV that folded out from under my seat and was fed rather good meals while being offered wine with dinner and baileys or cognac after the meal. All without charge! I couldn't even get one bag on the flight to Miami without paying.
All the flights were really smooth and went by relatively pain free. I slept for a lot of them, watched Lincoln Lawyer and Water for Elephants and made all my connections and best of all when I landed in Kilimanjaro my bag was there all safe and sound.
The guide books warn you that you need to bring your vaccination booklet to show you have had your yellow fever vaccination but they said this for South America as well and I was never asked for it. Well here I was and it was my first moment of panic.
I sat down and pulled out the folder that had all my documentation, including the photocopy of my vaccination certificate but could not locate the actual booklet. My initial fear was that it was still sitting in the photocopier after I very diligently had made a copy for both myself and my Mom.
I searched for several minutes through everything when it finally came to me. I had put it in my money belt in my purse and not in the package. So crisis over. Passed it to the gentleman then it was on to the next obstacle.
I did not get my visa for Tanzania prior to arrival for several reasons that I will spare all of you. All the research I had done made it sound very common to get the visa on arrival and I was banking on that research being accurate. Sure enough after filing out my arrival customs card I looked up to see where to go next (as an aside: Kilimanjaro is a very small airport. There were about 50 of us on the flight and it was 1:30am) and right in front of me is the laminated sign - Visa office. There was already a line so I joined it and once the man had taken my photo, looked at my passport and finger printed me with a fancy dancy scanner, I paid my $50US and was on my way. As I mentioned my bag had arrived, I could see it rotating around on the conveyor belt as I was waiting in line.
I had pre-arranged a ride to my hotel and so was reading the signs being held up by the very few men that were standing at the door and hadn't found mine when I was approached by another man asking me who I booked with. I was about to get out the paper to show him when a bigger gentleman turned and was looking at me strangely from outside and then walked up to me with a hand out...Jennifer?
Yep, let's go buddy. It was about a 45 min drive to the hotel which I discovered was not in the town (little problem) and I checked in without much problem and headed to bed.
The next morning despite my good plan to get up and be productive i.e. change money, get water and food. I instead slept longer than anticipated. By the time I wandered downstairs I was welcomed by an empty hotel and one worker - Mary looking very very bored.
Turns out that I am currently the ONLY guest at the hotel. Just a bit awkward. That meant that I would not be befriending other guests and going into town with them.
I am down to 12 mins so to be quick...I ate dinner at the hotel and read and wrote for a bit but then quickly fell right back to sleep. I knew that I hadn't had much sleep prior to leaving Vancouver and the sleep on the planes were short naps so I forgave myself. I would let my body rest since I need it to get me up a mountain.
But today (12th) I was up early and at breakfast and have been accompanied to Moshi town by Lottie and I have changed money, obviously found internet and have had a very nice chat. He wants to take me on a full day trip tomorrow to Marangu and given that there really is not much to do around here as a single female, I think that might be a good option.
I need to stop here, will hopefully write again before the climb, but if not then the next time will be to let you know whether I make it or not.